SOUTH PORTLAND, MENational Semiconductor and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have come to an agreement whereby National will pay a cash settlement of $42,000 and agree to develop and install chemical monitoring equipment into its wet benches.
“This equipment will monitor the chemical bath concentrations [in the wet bench] to keep it running at an optimal production level,” says Anne Gauthier, public affairs manager for National. Under the terms of the settlement, National agreed to install monitoring equipment into two of its wet benches. Due to proprietary reasons, National declined to comment in-depth about the monitoring equipment.
“While it's better to get it right the first time, the company should be commended for cooperating with the EPA and moving quickly to correct all hazardous waste violations at this plant and across the country,” says Robert W. Varney, EPA regional administrator for New England.
Prior to the installation of the sensors, wet-bench operators would change the water/chemical bath once every twelve hours instead of as needed. With the installation of the sensors, the bath will be monitored directly and the sensors will inform equipment operators when the chemical bath should be replaced. “We expect to decrease the amount of chemicals used by 2000 gallons,” Gauthier says. The chemicals being effected are: phosphoric acid, hydrogen peroxide and sodium hydroxide.
Last year National was fined by the EPA for violations including: failure to have a complete hazardous waste contingency plan in the event of a spill; failure to fully inspect a hazardous waste tank before it was put into service; and failure to label hazardous waste containers properly; and failure to properly train employees who handle hazardous waste.